Saturday, December 28, 2013
Doc Goes The Dynamite!
Doc Savage The Man of Bronze has hit the comic book shelves once again. Despite a highly successful and influential run in the vintage days of pulp and a legendary rebirth in the days of of paperback, Doc Savage has never been all that successful in comics. Street & Smith tried him out for several issues, substantially redesigning him for all that, Gold Key did a one-off, Marvel briefly ran both a color and black white version, and DC has recently finished the second of two runs of the character. Others like Millennium and Dark Horse have dabbled with the character too. But Dynamite is the most recent and their debut issue dropped a few weeks ago.
Despite a wonderfully evocative Alex Ross cover (inspired by Steranko's iconic SHIELD #4 ) and a very pulpy and action-filled John Cassady cover, the comic itself was pretty listless. The artist, Bilquis Evely, seems typical of the modern breed, and offers up a fragile lined image which doesn't to my mind evoke much of anything heroic. Doc appears actually smaller than he should, not large larger than life, and larger than his peers. He and his aides appear to be more or less real men among other rather typical looking folks. There's no power or punch to the presentation of layouts, and certainly no one scene in the story is especially memorable.
This story by Chris Roberson is the beginning of a saga which will span the eighty years since Doc's creation, beginning in the heyday of the 30's and moving forward in time. The mystery Doc and his Fantastic Five confront is a peculiar zone of beserker-madness which overcomes New Yorkers then passes. The zone of influence seems to increase and we watch and Doc analyzes the problem stoically and responds in ever-increasing severity to the growing threat. The mystery in the issue itself seems unimportant really, save for what looms in the future as we are told this story is far from over. Doc himself seems oddly disengaged from the events, too clinical by half to make the reader care about what is happening. The threat seems strangely intellectual and remote despite its antic nature.
The sad truth is, this story lacks both the blood and thunder which informs good pulp adventure. It's a failed effort at a Doc story, and sadly makes me disinterested in future issues. I likely will stay with this first storyline just to see how it resolves and to see if it improves, but afterwards it's anyone's guess.